This is FDV’s second deal in Pakistan; earlier it had invested in country’s popular property portal Zameen.com.
PakWheels.com is one of the popular websites in Pakistan for buying and selling of both cars and motorcycles, reading automotive reviews, sector news and comparing prices. It has 20 million views monthly and almost works like a social media platform for country’ s auto enthusiasts.
In a statement, the Malaysia-based firm said it will utilise its extensive resources and expertise to expand portal’s dominance, while providing strategic and operational support to fuel further business growth.
FDV founder and chief executive Shaun Di Gregorio said PakWheels.com epitomised the kind of business that the firm aimed to invest in.
“We love frontier and emerging markets and have a wealth of expertise and a proven track record of extracting value in the opportunities in these markets. We are looking forward to working with the team to take the portal to its full potential,” Di Gregorio said.
“Pakistan stands out as one of the promising countries among the frontier markets, with an emerging middle class and a young demographic,” Di Gregorio told DealStreetAsia, noting that Pakistan’s development today was comparable to that of Indonesia, four to five years ago.
“Jakarta already has a startup culture; which is just beginning in Pakistan,” he said, adding that Pakistan has started to “catch the technology bug”, and like many other frontier markets, its people are heading straight to smartphone usage, bypassing desktops and laptops. “The handheld internet penetration is surprisingly much higher than (fixed) internet penetration,” he added.
FDV’s is hoping to become the leading operator of online classifieds businesses in frontier and pre-emerging markets. The firm has already finalised several deals in the sector, which will be announced by the end of this year, he added.
According to him, FDV is targeting a portfolio of up to 30 investments in “disruptive digital businesses”, and has a mandate of possible investments for over 50 potential markets in Central and South America, Middle East and North America, Southern Africa, South Asia and select countries within the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Of that, it expects to conclude about 15 deals by mid-2015.
Prior to starting FDV, Di Gregorio served as the chief executive of the iProperty Group and general manager of REA Group Ltd. Both companies are now listed on the Australian Stock Exchange with a market capitalisation of $600 million and $720 million, respectively.